Everything is relative, as I’m sure you know Einstein said.
Einstein’s Generally Special Theory of Relatives proved that relatives are just different versions of the same thing, just some are older or bigger and others are smaller or younger.
Which applies to everything!
Here are some things that show a lot of very small and young things and a lot of very old and big things.
The first is Cosmic Zoom. This is a Canadian short film. Don’t let that put you off though, it’s quite good.
Now we have the internet, otherwise you wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t have met under these strange circumstances. So everything these days has gone interactive. No need for creaky animation sponsored by a country or a multinational computer company, you can zoom in and out yourself. Scale of the Universe is a brilliant piece of fun that shows the same idea of zooming in and out, except you do it using your mouse. Please click on this link and spend some time finding things you never knew existed. Click on any object and a small window appears telling you something about it. My favourite is The Pillars of Creation, at 10 the power 17.1
So what’s this got to do with Systems Thinking then?
Not much, admittedly. The flimsy reason I am using to throw together nostalgic 70’s TV programmes is that systems and sub-systems are all relative. The level you choose to focus on, your system of interest, is a choice. You could choose another level,moving upwards to find a system that the one you have started with is a sub-system of, or go down and look at a sub-system inside your original system. Plenty to choose from, both up and down and sideways. You just need to be explicit in knowing you are choosing this system and explicit in rejecting others, and that it is a choice and you know why you are choosing that system on that occasion.
Next week: Dark and Lonely Water and the Theory of Constraints.